Fruity Almond Chocolate Flan

A reader challenge recipe









The Fruity Almond Chocolate Flan was the first of one of our reader challenges. We ask readers to tell us what four ingredients they really like and we put them together to create a recipe. The challenge ingredients in this case were: strawberries, pineapple, almond milk and dark chocolate.

This was a fun recipe to create!  I mean, even if it was a total flop who could resist eating those ingredients, even if it meant eating it from a glass with a straw!

But the fruity flan with hints of almond and dark chocolate turned out to be one of our favorites! The blend of strawberries and pineapple is surprisingly delicious! So if you're in the mood for dessert this is great but plan ahead because it needs to be allowed to refrigerate overnight in order to set properly.

And once again, with some new untried recipes there are afterthoughts - how could I have made it easier or how could I have made it better? And it is not a vegan recipe as it calls for eggs. I am not certain how egg-replacer would work in this recipe. But be sure to read the afterthoughts on this one. Whatever you think, we thought it was mighty delicious!





Fruity Almond Chocolate Flan

Ingredients

3 large fresh strawberries
3 or 4 large fresh pineapple chunks
2 squares of bakers' bittersweet dark chocolate
3 cups of almond milk
4 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
About 3 or 4 tsp. agave nectar

How we make it

Wash and chop the strawberries into small pieces
about the right size for a relish.

Chop the pineapple chucnks into small pieces
about the same size as the berries.

In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of almond
milk to a rolling boil. Stirring frequently
to avoid scorching *. Add in the vanilla and
1 tsp. of agave and stir for a minute more.

Meanwhile take 2 squares of bakers' chocolate and
cut into quarters.

Place a small "dab" of agave (dividing the remaining
agave among 4 ramekins) in the bottom of each of the
4 ramekins. Place one of the quarters of one square of
chocolate in the bottom of each ramekin.

Microwave** the ramekins on high for about 1 1/2 minutes
or until the chocolate melts.

Stir it around to mix the chocolate and agave and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium to large mixing bowl, beat the
eggs until they are "light".

Melt the last full square of chocolate in a fifth ramekin
or other microwave safe dish and add it to the boilng
almond milk. Now slowly whisk the milk into the bowl with
the eggs. Take it slow so the eggs don't begin to set up.

Add a little strawberry and a little pineapple to the
bottom of each ramekin, on top of the melted chocolate.
About 1/2 tsp. of each will do. Set the rest aside.

Pour the almond milk and egg mixture into the the four
ramekins, dividing it evenly.

Put the ramekins in a deep baking pan and put about
1 to 1 1/2 inches of water in the bottom of the pan.

Place pan in a preheated oven and bake at 300 degrees
for an hour.

The custard will be a little "soupy" when you take it from
the oven. Allow it to cool completely then cover each one
with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

When ready to serve, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator
and run a thin knife along the inside edges to loosen up the
contents. Place a serving dessert dish on top of the ramekin
and invert it to allow the flan to settle out onto the dish.

Repeat with the other three ramekins.

Serve with sliced strawberries or the remaining chopped fruit
for garnish.

Notes: * Scorching doesn't seem to be as big an issue with
almond milk but be watchful.

** For those of you who may not like using a microwave, you
will need a double-boiler to melt the chocolate.


Afterthoughts: This one may need a little more work. It tasted delicious! I believe I had just the right balance of sweet and fruity. I chose bittersweet dark chocolate for just that reason. It complemented the strawberries and pineapple perfectly. However, it was not real sweet (on purpose). For those of you who like their desserts a little sweeter you may want to add more agave or sugar if you are using that.

I have made créme caramel on numerous occasions. The carmelized sugar always stays on top of the custard when you separate it from the ramekin. It seems that chocolate has a mind of its own though. Just on the first try I could tell that the chocolate was staying inside the ramekin. I decided before going any further that I would immerse the ramekins in a little boiling water to try to loosen the chocolate. It really didn't work either and I ended up prying it out with a spoon.

Finally, I think not having sugar and "real" milk prevented the custard from setting as much as it should. Perhaps some corn starch might help the next time. One nice surprise was the fact that when I added the reserved chocolate to the boiling almond milk it mixed, but just enough that it left little flecks of dark chocolate throught the milk.

So, if you want to try this recipe you might want to play a little. Another thought is to use a different kind of chocolate (one with more emulsifier) or even make a smoothie instead! The combination of the chocolate, strawberries and pineapple produces a great flavor.











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